Blogging has been low on my list of priorities lately, hasn’t it? I’m in a period of transition, & am trying to get used to some changes in my life, i.e., a new position in the office, new hours for David, etc. I’m not the kind of person who processes change very quickly, so my bandwidth is currently, as they say, exceeded. 🙂
That being said, it’s Giving Tuesday, so I thought I’d take a minute and encourage you to participate in supporting a few well-vetted organizations and/or people who are changing the world. These are groups where I can guarantee you, your money isn’t lining the pockets of some CEO or golf course. I have real issues with the gigantic organizations who have 7-figure salaried CEOs, for real. The following organizations are local, provide resources with integrity, & are vested into our communities. The funds are going straight to the animals, kids, or families in need, and each of these organizations exist to make the world a better place:
Pet Rescue Services: This animal rescue agency is run by two elderly people who have dedicated their lives, resources, and home to rescuing animals of all kinds. It’s where we got Noodle the Hot Mess Mutt, & I can’t speak highly enough about their dedication to caring for the defenseless. They’re currently having donations matched today, so it’s a great time to donate. Click here for the donation site.
Victory Christian Academy: Anyone who’s been involved in Christian education knows how monumental it is to a.) add a high school, and b.) have your own building. VCA is doing both at the same time, and are just over halfway to their fundraising goal to cover the renovations of the new-to-us building off of Forder. Click here for more information, and to donate. As a parent, there’s nothing greater than to see your kid make their own profession of faith, in their own words, and to state their belief in Jesus. VCA had a huge part in planting that seed in Jericho’s heart, & we are forever thankful for the solid, Bible-based education he’s receiving. With smaller class sizes and teachers who truly minister to the kids, VCA has been a great “nest” for Jericho for the past 5 years, and we are so proud to call it “our” school!
Hannah’s Hope: Hannah’s Hope is a ministry founded by a woman who had a baby in the NICU for an extended stay. She knows first-hand how difficult NICU life can be, so she puts together care packages for moms & dads who are facing the same struggle. They get numerous items to make their stay a bit easier (socks, notebooks, lotion, etc.) along with faith-based items to share the comfort of the Holy Spirit while they go through the stress of watching their infant fight for survival. I have a personal connection to this group, & I absolutely love their mission. This isn’t a tax-deductible donation that I know of, but it is a more-than-worthy cause. Click here for more information.
National Share Organization: Share was a huge help for David & I in the first years after we lost Hannah. They serve as an organization to support families who have lost a child due to miscarriage, stillbirth, & neonatal loss; unfortunately, their services are needed now more than ever. From assisting with finding mental health support, to hosting annual walks to raise awareness of the blinding statistics of infant mortality in the U.S.A., Share was and is a godsend to so many. Click here for more information.
I know this is a short blog, but with so many organizations looking for funding, if you’re wanting to support a non-profit organization but are also wanting to make sure the money goes to the right place, this list should help. Please consider making a financial donation this Giving Tuesday to any of the four groups listed above. Thank you!
I’ve probably started to write 15 blogs about the concept of Deconstruction. It’s a pervasive, sneaky, deceptive line of philosophy that breaks down Christianity into four words: “Hath God Not Said?” If you remember who spoke those four words, you’ll understand where I’m going with this. “Hath God Not Said?” in the King James vernacular, are the four words Satan, disguised as the Snake, said to Eve in the Garden of Eden just before she made her eternally-impacting bite of the forbidden fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good & Evil. With those four words, Eve decided she needed to know more than the Lord wanted her to know. She decided that her thirst for knowledge was more important than the spiritual consequences, and so began the downfall of humanity (please note that I am in no way, shape, or form blaming Eve for the Fall of Man. I believe Adam & Eve hold the responsibility evenly & that humanity has used Eve’s arrogance to subjugate and discriminate against women since that singular moment, but that’s another blog. 🙂 ).
So, Deconstruction began in the very infancy of earth…Satan came in, made Eve question the truth she’d known since Creation, & that line of “wait a minute, is THAT what God said? Is THAT what He intended?!?” has been used & abused ever since…it’s nothing new.
In 2020, I started studying the Torah with a small group of people–my home church at the time–and as the pandemic began, we took a pretty deep dive. It was fascinating; I found myself going back to the Garden & the original plan God had for His people. As we studied things in the original Hebrew, I really found myself getting more & more frustrated at the differences between the Hebrew intentions & the English translations. This wasn’t anything new to me, but it was the first time I REALLY took a deep dive, & it came with some very frustrating side effects. I’m still struggling with some things. I’m struggling with how God laid out His word very clearly, yet His people even in those early days started off on such a wrong foot. The precedent that was set even by patriarchs such as Abraham, Moses, Isaac–these are deeply flawed people who were responsible for creating the foundations of the children of God–how do we reconcile this? How do we trust a murderer to accurately transcribe the words of God? How do we trust a man who openly deceived kings, to raise up an anointed people?
And then I REALLY got into my head about language, which has always been a struggle for me, even in the New Testament. There are Hebrew words that we CAN’T translate into English–we don’t have the words for it–and there are words the translators were actively influenced into mistranslating by those that funded the work (the King James Version is a great example, particularly in regards to baptism).
I’m still struggling with these issues. If I had the time to do the deep dive into Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, I’d like to say that I would; in all honesty, I’m probably too lazy to do the work myself. I know that’s kind of pathetic to admit. Do I still believe the Bible is the word of God. Yes, I do. Do I believe that our English translation has some work to do? Absolutely…but for now, it’s the best we have. Am I willing to bank my salvation, my lifestyle, and my eternity on “the best we have?”
Yes, I am.
I have almost 37 years of reading/studying/singing this Book under my belt (sometimes barely, sometimes voraciously), & it’s never steered me wrong. It’s always drawn me closer to a God Who understands and welcomes my questions. There are things I do NOT understand (imprecatory Psalms? Those seem harsh…although I understand the sentiments, particularly when I am stuck in traffic.:) ), & I firmly believe that’s okay. Where we do not understand, we trust. That’s faith.
That’s a hard lesson I learned a long time ago. I’m reminded of it a LOT as I go through this journey of processing issues with translations.
Most of the time, when I compare the Hebrew information I’m given (my husband is really, really great about studying this stuff beyond what I can begin to process) I get aggravated as to why it’s not broken down more accurately in the English version. It always, ALWAYS puts a new light on the very character of God & His intentions for His people. In fact, the more you look at the Hebrew words in the Old Testament, the more you get the picture of a loving God Who wants a people that are truly set apart & dedicated to His goodness. Most of us that are raised in the church see an Old Testament God Who has His finger on the “smite” button…but it’s not the case, so in reviewing the original languages of the Old Testament, it causes you to realize just how much He truly adores His kids!
The New Testament is the restoration of the separation caused in the beginning of the Old Testament–The sin we started with, the gap between us & the very throne of God, is erased and reconciled with Jesus’ sacrifice in the Gospels. It’s a beautiful, circular coming to salvation that God planned thousands of years ago.
Yesterday during worship, “restoration” was a word I couldn’t get away from. There are times where we feel so stripped down; I’ve really struggled lately with feelings of worthlessness & of being ignored, gaslit, & dismissed. It’s actually a lifelong issue. I guess I’m finally able to put words to the feeling, and in doing so, am finally able to identify and process how to get through it (maybe). I think when we talk about restoration, we look at physical and material things. Have you ever thought about it in regards to our mental and spiritual health?
What would life look like if we were mentally and spiritually restored and refreshed?
We sang the song, “Homecoming” by Cory Asbury, & it hit me like a brick in the head. What does it mean, to be restored?!? Is it a restoration of mental health? Peace…feeling acknowledged and valued…feeling like I matter? Is it a restoration of family? What would it be like, to hold hands with both of my kids? What would it be like, to see my Grandma again? To feel her kiss my cheek or call me “spider monkey?”
What will it feel like, to be whole?
We’re going to know–we’re GOING TO KNOW. We have that promise. Amos 9:14 says, “and I will bring my people Israel back from exile. ‘They will rebuild the ruined cities & live in them. They will plant vineyards & drink their wine; they will make gardens & eat their fruit’.” The Bible is full of verses about restoration.
Do you know how deconstruction ties in here?
Deconstruction seeks to actively undermine the authority of Scripture and in doing so, it steals every promise in the Word.
I don’t want to live like that.
Deconstruction puts the intellectualization of the Bible above the spiritual intention of the written love letter we have from Jesus.
I don’t want to live like that.
Deconstruction steals the restoration of what this world steals from us, and replaces it with the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil.
I know what’s good. I know what’s evil.
And I choose the restoration that Love gives.
I choose the promise of our Homecoming.
I choose the promise of Jesus.
And when I don’t understand, I seek clarity. When I don’t get clarity, I seek peace. And when peace is evasive, I still trust in Him, because through it all, His Spirit still loves without fail.
Deconstruction will only serve to decimate the spiritual, but restoration will heal your soul & deliver the promises of eternal life…so that’s what I pick. I hope you do, too.
It’s been a while since I’ve written anything, but sometimes updates require more than a Facebook blurb (and let’s face it–Facebook is a bit of a cesspool. Sometimes it’s amazing, but more times than not, I find myself reading statuses & struggling with anger/jealousy/politics/etc. Totally mentally unhealthy).
A few months ago, I started to notice issues with my voice. Maybe they would seem normal to a person who doesn’t sing all of the time (in my car, you know. Not like I’m singing anywhere right now, and I haven’t in a long time); I don’t know. I talk a lot more in my current position than I’m used to, so I chalked it up to that, until April, when I clearly felt the Lord say, “Hey, kid, that’s not normal. Call the doctor.” So, I called “Dr. Doogie,” as my husband calls him–the otolarynologist at Barnes/WashU that I had seen after my thyroidectomy–and scheduled an appointment for today.
Meanwhile, back in February, I hurt my neck. I had an MRI earlier this month that revealed two things: #1, I have a couple of bulging disc issues that I’ll be tackling with my chiropractor. #2, my lymph nodes in my neck were super-enlarged, & needed to be addressed. Clinically, my labs were good, so I wasn’t concerned about my cancer returning. However, after dealing with these lymph nodes for 7 years now, I decided I was going to tell Dr. Doogie that I wanted them out of my body–I was pretty set on it. And then I had my appointment today.
It turns out that my lymph nodes haven’t changed in the last few years. They’re just weirdly large, and as long as they don’t change and my labs look good, they’re staying put. Obnoxious, but solid–sounds like me, amirite?!? 🙂 What HAS changed, is what brought me into his office in the first place: My formerly-partially paralyzed left vocal cord is now completely paralyzed. I have no idea how that’s possible, but the next steps are to see a speech/occupational therapist at WashU that specializes in vocal cord paralysis. Those people exist?!?!? I find that amazing, as I find just about any specialist. Who decides that’s what they’re going to do?!? I wish I had known years ago that those kinds of careers existed! Evidently, they can help restore some movement with both injections (yikes!) and physical therapy.
So, the “radioactive fallout” from my thyroid cancer continues–I’m so, so thankful that it’s not back, but I’m slightly bummed that I’m dealing with side effect issues. I’m hopeful that they’ll be able to help–I mean, I’ll never be where I used to be, when I was singing 7-8 hours a day; I don’t expect that. I just want to be able to yell at David at full volume, you know? 🙂 I can still get pretty loud, but still….bwahahahahahahaha!
And that’s the update–I could write a small novel if I had the time, but that’s a BIG if, as time seems to be my most precious commodity these days. Time to have some summer fun & to enjoy & soak up every minute with my kiddo…..Blessings on you! And if you have any insights on vocal therapy, send them my way!
I was listening to Bethel this morning (it’s my go-to, especially when I’m struggling with my mental/spiritual health), & the lyrics, “with every breath that I am able, I will sing of the goodness of God,” resonated with me. Breathing seems so ordinary until you can’t do it, right? Like, we just expect lungs to inflate & deflate. We expect the transition of oxygen to our cells to be seamless, to be subconscious, until it’s not.
When you’re aware of every breath, it’s stressful–>which can contribute to anxiety–>which also makes it hard to breathe…But singers gotta sang, right?!?
Worshippers HAVE to worship. It’s how we’re wired–it’s what God made us to do, even those of us that may only sound mediocre to others. When He makes you to do something, He shuts that fire up in your bones and it HAS to come out, even when you don’t think you’re able.
If you cut the hands off of a drummer, they will rig a set and keep a rhythm with their feet (just ask Rick Allen). They literally have cadence running through their veins–try sitting next to my sister during ANY kind of musical performance. She will tap on whatever is handy, impulsively. I think she probably taps rhythms out while she sleeps–it’s who she is. She. Is. A. Drummer. It’s who God made her to be, regardless of the job that pays the bills. When God creates you to worship Him in a certain way, it consumes your entire being.
I have always been surrounded by music. I remember singing Gatlin Brothers songs while washing the dishes, or The Oak Ridge Boys, or even Madonna, Skynyrd, or Cash. Church hymns line the wrinkles of my brain–“The Old Rugged Cross,” or “In the Garden.” My mom’s harmony laid the path for my own, & the Baptist church I was raised in taught me deep lyrics & rich melodies, & how they all worked together to worship Jesus. For my sister, it was the rhythms and the guitars. For me, it was the voices, and since I can remember, I have sang my lungs out whenever possible…
But sometimes, I can’t.
Asthma is a jerk–I’ve made it no secret just how I feel about the contemptable beast. Most of the time, I go on uninterrupted. No one would know I actually have a partially-paralyzed vocal chord from my cancer surgery. I sound almost normal, and God knows I haven’t lost a lot of volume (in short bursts). Vocally (when I can breathe), although I’ve lost a lot of power and duration, things sound almost the same, which had originally stressed me out the most about the surgery. I don’t even think about that, most of the time. Breathing, however, is another story. Vocal chords work based on how air moves between them. Asthma likes to rear its ugly head this time of the year, & this time it’s BAD–like, ER, steroids, and more steroids bad. Nothing really seems to be touching it, & I’m struggling with worrying about it (amongst the stress of everything else). “With every breath that I am able?” Oh, Jesus, what if I’m not?!?
Then we praise Him in the silence.
We praise Him with our voices, and when those run out, we find other ways to give Him glory, whether it’s a blog or a note to a friend, or a silent prayer, or even just a hug to someone who needs it. We praise Him with whatever we can do or find, because regardless of the method or ability, IT’S WHO HE MADE US TO BE.
So, “with every breath that I am able, I WILL sing of the goodness of God,” even when I can’t breathe, even when I’m stressed, even when I’m run-down, and even when I don’t think I can function. He still is, and I am still who He created me to be. I’m going to push aside the emotional aspects of this, and focus on that.
I’ve been so focused on the new job that I’ve felt like my brain has left me zero room to process emotions–does that make sense? I’ve been struggling with feeling like God is near (is He? I mean, of course He is, but He’s hard to hear when the world is so loud & obnoxious), in the middle of trying to get thru the day-to-day… But He finds ways & places to capture our hearts, sometimes when we least expect it, & emotions, like water, WILL make their way thru. Sitting at Hannah’s grave hurt today… it hurt in a way that it hasn’t in a long time. 💔
Maybe it’s the season–after all, her birthday was October 30th, & November 28th is the date of her death. Maybe it’s the fact that this time of the year, I feel pulled in more directions than are humanly possible to reach. Maybe it’s that time is flying by, & I get this “hitch” in the center of my chest every time my son outgrows another piece of clothing…
I sat at her grave, putting up her Christmas tree, & as I was making things “just so,” I felt God say, “Wait. Take a breath–you need to process this.” David & Jericho were in the car–they could wait. I sat there & looked at the beautiful hills…15 years. 15 years of memories, of decorations come and gone…15 years of tears, of occasional stoicism or anger, many years of finding, losing, and re-finding peace in the unknowing….even peace in the non-understanding…and still, 15 years of unanswered questions…
I still find myself asking if it will ever make sense…and I still find myself leaning back on Him, knowing that He is still there to catch me. He is in the unknowing, even when He is all we know.
You know, people have gotten really crazy with what I call “wallpaper Christianity.” I can’t do the whole, “live, laugh, love” thing on my wall…I have a Cricut, & I’m pretty sure David’s biggest concern when he bought it was that I’d plaster the house with all of that, “this is us” crap, LOL, but he needn’t worry…usually….But the other day, I saw a sign on Facebook that I’m going to have to duplicate. It said, “I still remember the days I prayed for what I have, now.”
Oooooh, that got me.
I still remember the letter 14-year old me wrote to her future husband, & all of the prayers poured into this man that steals my heart & my bath towel, or forgets to change the toilet paper roll. I still remember the prayers poured into finding joy again, or into recovery. I remember the prayers poured into learning to trust God all over again, into finding who I was again….and I remember on a daily basis, the prayers poured into the crazy-pants, static, loud, lovable, kind, adorable, occasionally obnoxious, and always-amazing now 8-year old miracle that I get to call, “Son.”
Even on the days where I have utterly failed at wife-ing or parenting, I remember those prayers, & I am endlessly grateful.
I’m thankful for this journey. Above all, I am thankful for a God Who loves & sustains us thru the the business & chaos, & Who lovingly calls us to selah, or “pause” & to listen to His voice….Who created us as emotional beings & Who never tells us to “stifle it” or to “suck it up.” He understands our processes because He created us in His image, & He IS an emotional Being–He loves, He grieves, & He celebrates. He doesn’t expect or want us to pretend; He wants our reality & our actuality.
We may want to focus on “live, laugh, love, ” but He is also in those commas & spaces between,,,in the parts no one wants to paper their walls with. He is calling us to pause in the chaos, and to allow ourselves to feel…to feel all of it, and to share it with Him.
So, I got a little….well, I almost said, “wrecked,” but it was more like an emotional flat tire: easily fixed, but not to be ignored. And that’s okay. There is peace after the processing.
I hope that you get to take the time through the next few weeks to breathe, to feel, and to fall into His arms. He will always be there.
Happy Thanksgiving, and if you don’t hear from me, Merry Christmas, beloveds. May you find your selah in this season.
I haven’t blogged since the end of July!! Having COVID really, truly rerouted me. I’m not sure how I can even begin to sum up the last 2 months, so the words of David Bowie come to mind:
“Strange fascinations fascinate me Ah, changes are taking The pace I’m goin’ through
Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes Turn and face the strange Ch-ch-changes Ooh, look out, you rock ‘n’ rollers Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes Turn and face the strange Ch-ch-changes Pretty soon now you’re gonna get older”
And older, I am…There are definitely times where I feel every bit of the 43 years under my skin, but I think having a third grader keeps David & I feeling somewhat spry (at least, that’s what they tell us). Jericho started the third grade in mid-August, & thanks to some of the tutoring we did over the summer, it seems to be going well. If only he could stop talking out of turn–so many ideas, so many words, so little time!!! It’s the story of my life. I deeply empathize with my kiddo, but that doesn’t mean he gets out of the consequences of pulling cards when he misbehaves at school, even if they’re related to his “excess verbiage,” as one teacher told me when I was a kid. He had two–TWO–face plants/head smacks in a 2-week time that nearly sent us to Urgent Care (if only one was available without a two-hour wait, under our insurance plan). My mom patched up one, and I patched up the other. He’ll have some cool scars, but other than that, he’s fine. He started Ki-Do Defense Systems, and it’s exciting to see a third-generation martial artist come out of our family!
David continues to do well with his job; the only drawback is the hours, so I am praying that he gets a slightly-earlier shift. I’m very proud of him! I’m also very thankful to the Lord–David landed that job in the middle of the pandemic, and it has been a huge blessing.
Speaking of jobs….deep breath….after 10+ years, I have resigned my position with the University of Missouri–St. Louis, and have taken a position at another University in our area. For the first time in over twenty years (21!!!!!), I will not be working in healthcare. It’s a realization that is staring me in the face, & I’m in a bit of shock over the decision. If God would not have so clearly opened so many doors, this would not be happening. Leaving the security blanket of a good job, good benefits, mostly-nice people, etc., is a big, scary, Nestea-plunge into unchartered waters!!!!!
But it’s time.
I think I’ve grown hermit-ish. I think I’ve grown comfortable, like a fat cat lounging in a windowsill. I felt the Lord ask me last year, “are you tired of being comfortable? Are you ready to make a change? Or do you just want to stay with the familiar?”
At the time, I said, “I’ve been here this long. Let me stay. It’s easy–I’m in my comfort zone. I can deal with the one-or-two people that make things difficult. I can do this.” And then the pandemic hit.
I realized that I didn’t want to do this anymore. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I knew that it wasn’t this–it wasn’t any major blow-up kind of thing. I just missed my family.
I’ve missed almost every morning of school. I’ve missed almost every bedtime. I’ve missed conversations with my husband, and I missed walking the dang dog. I’ve missed countless plans or evening meet-ups; I’ve missed relationships because I’ve had to be in bed by 8:00am. I’ve missed people.
When I missed the entire month of July because of COVID & found myself deeply, deeply struggling with anxiety, anger, bitterness & even resentment, I found myself face-down with the Lord, wondering what in the world needed to happen? I’d been looking at other positions, but nothing seemed to fit; when this position opened up, I didn’t think I had a chance (much like I felt when my UMSL job opened up), but to my surprise, they picked me! Then began the process of leaving, and it’s a difficult process, indeed.
There are so many things I’d like to say, but I think I will leave it at this: I am thankful. I am so grateful for the time I’ve had here; for the experiences & the opportunities; and mostly, for the schools I’ve been able to work with, with our Mobile Eye Van project (please-oh-please, click the link!). I’m thankful for those I’ve met along the way, & for those that took the time to teach me the importance of what they do at the Center for Eye Care offices. I’m thankful for the communities I’ve been able to connect with, and for every single school nurse that shared a laugh in one of the many meetings in which I awkwardly tried to convey the importance of optometric care (“If you can’t see, you can’t read, and if you can’t read, you can’t succeed!” Trademark pending!!!!). I’m thankful for the other vision service providers who tirelessly drive their RVs up-&-down the streets of St. Louis to care for kids and even adults and senior citizens. I’m thankful for the staff that have come together to provide patients with the best care manageable, and for the doctors and students who work seamlessly to diagnose, to treat, and to educate patients in a way that makes sense. It’s been a privilege to be a part of this team.
I know that it’s time to move forward towards new things, new people, & new adventures. I know God is delivering me from anxiety (it’s not “my” anxiety anymore. It’s His.) & that He is with me on this journey…If I fall, He’s there. If I fly, He’s there. If I stay grounded, if I get it right, if I screw it up–He’s there. What do I have to fear? I’ve found myself singing a song that a friend wrote several years ago; the whole album was my go-to during my pregnancy with Jericho, & I’m listening to it daily as I make this new transition. The song (“Jacob,” by Bizzy Grapperhaus) has the line, “there’s one way out of the wilderness…leaning on my Beloved.” I’ve been holding onto it like a childhood teddy bear, a security blanket of sorts. I need a constant reminder that He’s got a plan, and the closer I get to Him, the more peace I have. When the fear or anxiety threatens, I lean in harder. He always calms the storm.
My biggest hope as I leave this institution is that people knew/know that my faith has been more important to me than anything….that my relationship with God is the only thing that has carried me through the last 10 years (so many highs-&-lows)…and that with all of my skills and/or flaws, I tried my hardest to work in a way that honors God. I’ve done my best, and I’m leaving with that peace in my heart. I’m thankful for that. I’ve worked hard, and now I’m going to go work just as hard for someone else! Keep us in prayer as we make this transition, as a family–and please, pray for me as I take on different responsibilities in an entirely new field.
I’m looking forward to the new adventure…starting 10/4. 🙂
In the month of June, for multiple reasons, I had a mental health freakout. My anxiety hit the roof, I wound up face-to-face with unresolved childhood trauma; there were parenting crises, & things at work were coming to a boiling point. When one area of my life goes haywire, I can generally process. When EVERY area of my life goes haywire?!?!?! My brain broke.
I wound up reaching out to my pastors, a counselor, & a friend; they all counseled me to take a break, & after pushing the guilt to the back-burner I asked my boss if I could take 4 vacation days over the Fourth of July holiday.
Those four days turned into TWENTY.
For my first day of my vacation, I spent an entire day with my mom. I had her ALLLLLL to myself! We had an amazing time, shared stories, had some adventures, got the car stuck on the side of the road in no-man’s land, & I cherished every single minute. I love my mom, & I love learning from her. It looked like this break was going to be awesome!
On the second day of my self-imposed mental health break, I received a text that my son had been directly exposed to COVID. My initial reaction was, “Oh. Well, I guess that’s really nothing new.” It’s not that I didn’t take it seriously–rather, we’d been so good about masks, hand-washing, etc. The environment in which he had been exposed was a small group of kids and 2-3 adults. I notified my family, but that same day I received word that I needed around $2000 in car repairs, so I had more pressing things on my plate…or so I thought. Two days later, our plans for celebrating the Fourth with my family moved forward as usual.
We spent most of the time outside, and my parents have a large, airy house. Towards midday, I looked at my son & thought, “He seems off. NO WAY.” Out loud, I said, “Mom, do you have a thermometer?”
Lo & behold, my beloved boy had a temp of 102. The bottom fell out of my stomach, & the anxiety hit me like a punch from Conor McGregor. My mom looked at me and immediately prayed; we gave Jericho some aspirin & began hourly temperature checks. We kept him hydrated; outside of the fever & a lack of appetite, he was as keenly interested in the fireworks as ever before, and in less than 24 hours, he was perfectly fine. Whew!!!! We’d spent a lot of time outdoors, so maybe it was just a sinus bug? The next day, we went to the zoo (we were masked), & all seemed fine! He seemed a bit crankier than usual, but it was bloody HOT, so it wasn’t completely out of the norm. Life moved on.
The next day, I had some tests to run at the hospital. I’ve had a lot of issues with pain and inflammation this year, particularly in regards to my legs. The cramping, aches, and stabbing pains have left me unable to rest, & that’s contributed to my mental health struggles. The testing took two hours; after I left, I noticed that I wasn’t feeling all that great. I stopped and got what seemed like a super-bland lemon-berry slush, & made my way through the hell we all know as Wal-Mart. By the time I got to the car, I felt like I was coming down with the flu–I still hadn’t put it together.
The following morning, I had a telehealth appointment. By the end of it, it was determined that I had better get tested; I was supposed to return to the office the next day. I opted for a rapid test & set up the appointment for later that afternoon. By the time of the appointment, I couldn’t drive, & had to ask David to come and get me. The test, to my surprise, was positive.
I spent the next 5 days in bed…& somewhere in there, David got sick as well (he never bothered to get tested). I stayed in bed from Wednesday evening through Monday afternoon.
People, COVID sucks. If you haven’t had it, it’s horrible. I am still pretty sure that the three of us had a more moderate version of it in February, 2020; I thought I had it again last November, but I never tested positive. THIS, though? This has been infinitely worse than both respiratory things I had in February & in November. It’s been 3 weeks; I still have major chest tightness and unrelenting fatigue. I feel like my lungs have been destroyed by a cheese grater. David still has a cough, along with the fatigue. We haven’t gone ANYWHERE with the exception of work & Jericho’s summer school, since the holiday weekend. I tried to go into a store last week, but couldn’t do it. It’s bad enough that I asked my sister to take Jericho for the weekend just so we could rest & sleep (she’s NEVER cared for him on her own before, so this was a huge ask. Not only did she volunteer to take him for the whole weekend–I had initially only asked her to take him for a day–she knocked it out of the park! They had a TON of fun, & the pictures are awesome!! She braved Sky Zone!!!!!), and so that Jericho could get out of the house.
If I didn’t have a nebulizer, albuterol, & a CPAP machine, I don’t think David or I would have been able to avoid the hospital. I have monitored our oxygen saturation like a vulture. We both have medical appointments at the end of this week that will make sure we’re recovering, but seeing David as sick as he’s been? That’s been terribly alarming to me. He’s never really sick, & he’s terrible about taking anything when he is. We’re both exhausted. The reports that this can take a long time to come back from are not anything I want to read–ain’t anybody got time for this!!!!! Neither one of us can taste or smell anything properly, which I suppose is fantastic for the diet; it’s frustrating for me, because I like food!!!!!! And when you have a taste for something, but can’t taste it?!? ACK!
I personally think COVID was designed from the pits of hell. It’s debilitating, demoralizing, destructive, & deadly. All of the conflicting information, the division, the inconsistencies–I am sick & tired of reading about masks, vaccines, incentives, etc., because from the very beginnings of this mess, the “facts” have constantly changed. I’ve been dragged for being unvaccinated–if I’m willing to keep wearing masks and washing my hands, why do I need to be vaccinated? I’d rather do that, than inject something into my system that is proving to have inconsistent results. And now that I’ve got all of these lovely antibodies, it’s giving me more time to think about the vaccine, the information, the consequences, and the benefits. I’m the type of person that the more something is pushed, the more likely I am to take a step back & say, “wait a minute.” Vaccine incentives & the constant propaganda is off-putting to me, especially based on government involvement. I’m completely content to do my part to reduce the spread/exposure by wearing masks and washing my hands (and social distancing–I love social distancing), & I feel like that’s generally enough–isn’t that what they told us for the first 10 months of this mess?
We take preventative measures to protect ourselves & others. I’m not an anti-vaxxer, but I am someone who has been known to have the weirder, more rare reactions to various drugs, & I don’t want to take any chances. Wearing a mask has zero side-effects to me (I know that’s not the case for everyone) & I am happy to do so. I’m not going to rail on anyone who doesn’t want to wear one (but I will not hesitate to tell you to step off if we’re indoors & you’re not wearing one, ‘k? I’m not getting this crap again).
With all of the preventative measures that David & I were taking, we still got COVID (and it’s pretty clear to me that we got it through our son). With vaccines, people are STILL getting breakthrough cases of COVID. It’s become very, very evident that the designs of this disease are just evil, & even with all of the things we try to do to comply and/or to prevent, it’s mutating past the expectations. I don’t honestly have a lot of hope for a COVID-free future.
Please take every preventative measure you can take! Get your vitamin C (it’s particularly good for the lungs), get your N-Acetyl-Cysteine. Boost your immune system (chiropractic adjustments have been shown to boost your immune systems!), wash your hands, wear your mask if you want. Be cognizant of your surroundings and your distance from people, even when you’re outdoors. Know that your kids can be little germ vessels, and help them take personal responsibility for their hygiene–I think that’s the one area where we let our guard down.
COVID SUCKS. Period. David & I are trying to get back to “normal” at a much slower pace. To everyone who has reached out in prayer; to the family that dropped off an amazing meal; to the friends who gave us an Instacart gift card; to INSTACART: THANK YOU. We have appreciated all of the love, prayers, and support. Please be patient with us as we try to get caught up on things & as we try to get some energy back. This feels like a long road to come back from, & I feel like we’re going to need a lot of grace with ourselves and from others!
I’m posting a quick blurb to say that I know it’s been over a month since I last posted (almost two months, now). I’m going to be way-too candid for a public blog and just admit to you that I’m really, really struggling, & I can’t find a way to verbalize it right now. This isn’t a click-bait, “pray for me” kind of a post; it’s just an update since I’m usually not this quiet. I’m not trying to be deliberately vague. Between my existing physical/mental issues and the overall spiral into burnout, I’m having a hard time and I cannot DEAL with responses like, “you just need a vacation.” I’m not in a place where I want or need a response at all. I simply do not want to talk & am overwhelmed at the thought of a dissecting conversation.
So, it’s not your computer. It’s me, and I’ll hop back on here when the sun has come out once again. There are plenty of things that I have, and I am, celebrating, so please don’t think I’m on a death-spiral of depression. I’m not exactly sure WHAT I’m dealing with, so until I know or can at least intelligently express it, I’m putting my keyboard away. Peace out.
Like that title? LOL—okay, maybe it’s a bit click-baitey. Life moves FAST, and even though I try to document all of the hilarious things my kiddo says (#ConvosWithRico), there are some things that I just don’t get the chance to write about. Not all of them are funny, but even the “unfunny” conversations have a way of ending with a laugh. It’s just part of how I’m wired, and seemingly, how my son is wired (also, David has a pretty good sense of humor. He’s not as funny as he thinks he is, but he has his moments).
I love #Fail videos. Jericho & I have watched Fail videos since I first discovered Fail Army on YouTube. I’ve loved Fail videos since I first discovered America’s Funniest Home Videos (in its first incarnation, and now, as AFV), and I think it’s because had there been video cameras as easily accessible when I was a kid, I’m sure I could have gone viral for my own idiocy. I once fell over a trashcan in the middle of Disney World…and I once tripped over a Safety Cone in Northwest Plaza, making my poor mother laugh so hard that she SAT DOWN in the MIDDLE of the MALL because she couldn’t walk from laughing. I have a knack for tripping and falling, and it really hasn’t gotten that much better in my adulthood. In fact, if I were to keep writing about all of my klutzy adventures, I wouldn’t stop typing until December. I’m that graceful.
So, my lack of coordination and/or general lack of observance has made me fodder for Fail videos my entire life, and if I can laugh at myself when I fall down, I think I have the right to laugh at videos of other people doing the same thing, as long as no one is bleeding.
Generally, we’ll watch montages of Fail videos and they’ll involve things like snowboarding, or stairs, or falling off of porches—all things your Average Joe-Jane can do with aplomb. Sometimes these videos clearly involve alcohol, and this has involved moments of Adam Sandler-inspired parenting: “Alcohol = puke = smelly mess = Nobody Likes You.” It’s a classic quote, and has served me well in both reminders and in education, about the perils of booze. And let’s face it—Mr. Sandler knew what he was saying. I think anyone can point a finger and preach to someone about alcohol, but how much of that actually sticks? I’ve never, ever forgotten that scene in that movie, and it’s lasted in my brain far longer than any sermon on the topic.
I have a fear of my son taking things like alcohol way too lightly.
He’s 8. Alcohol and drugs are far too commonplace in society, either in billboards or commercials, or in news stories, or in random conversations. Addictive behaviors present pretty early on, and I have to wonder if we intervene with a healthy presentation about what addiction is, and how it can change your life, at this age? Do we stoke curiosity, or do we lay a foundation of preparation?
I joke about being addicted to chocolate (I totally am), or that he’s addicted to his tablet or to YouTube (curse you, YouTube. I rue the day I let you into my house!!!!!!); we talk about how Jesus breaks addictions, and how it’s good to talk to Him about these things.
Fail videos often show cups of beer or obviously inebriated people, doing really dumb stuff. It’s an easy conversation starter along those Adam Sandler lines: “Alcohol = Fall down and look like an idiot, and get made fun of by the entire world = Never goes away in Cyberspace.” We talk about actions having permanent consequences. Drunk people doing dumb things have enabled me to have gentle conversations with my son about feelings of abandonment and sadness, because someone I loved, loved alcohol more than me…Nothing good comes from the abuse of alcohol or drugs, and it’s not the life Jesus wants for us.
I say all of this because this past Sunday, I realized how much of an impact some of these conversations have had—you know, you don’t realize what your kids retain until it comes back to haunt you. David was making pork steaks, and he opened up a beer to add to the marinade. He put half of a beer in with the steaks and he gave me the rest of it to drink (it was a Wicked Orchard Apple Ale from Aldi, and they’re delicious. They’re also AMAZING to use in beer bread). Jericho looks at me wide-eyed and goes, “MOM!!!!!!! DON’T GET DRUNK AND DO THINGS!!!!”
I laughed so, so hard. Like, snort-laughed. I think he thought that if I drank that half-beer, I would immediately start falling down and being a Fail video star. My son says the funniest things, and he has no filter (much to my chagrin—I have found myself LAUNCHING to intervene after he’s said something unintentionally rude or embarrassing), & I know that will tone down as he gets older. I feel like by maintaining the #ConvosWithRico, I’ve made it where I can retrace every funny thing he’s said that I’ve documented online. It’s sentimental—I know these things will decrease as his awareness of the world and his maturity levels increases. He’s growing up…and there are so many building blocks I want to lay out for him as he’s on his way.
Some things are too heavy for him to understand, and I worry that the world will throw them at him too soon. Corrie Ten Boom has a marvelous quote in her book, The Hiding Place, that I’m often reminded of when I’m faced with a Big Topic:
‘And so seated next to my father in the train compartment, I suddenly asked, “Father, what is sexsin?”He turned to look at me, as he always did when answering a question, but to my surprise he said nothing. At last he stood up, lifted his traveling case off the floor and set it on the floor.Will you carry it off the train, Corrie?” he said.I stood up and tugged at it. It was crammed with the watches and spare parts he had purchased that morning.
“It’s too heavy,” I said.
“Yes,” he said, “and it would be a pretty poor father who would ask his little girl to carry such a load. It’s the same way, Corrie, with knowledge. Some knowledge is too heavy for children. When you are older and stronger, you can bear it. For now you must trust me to carry it for you“.’
The world wants our kids to grow up way too soon. Conversations about sex, desire, gender roles, drugs, alcohol, etc., are heavy topics, and they’re not meant to bear the weight of them too soon. It’s our job as parents to determine the when and the how of those conversations (and not the schools, although they’ve taken it on as parents are often too naïve or too inattentive to do so). When certain conversations become unavoidable (it’s astounding how much alcohol and drug advertising there is, or how much it sneaks into family programming or cartoons. Beer billboards are a dime-a-dozen in this city–go figure), I try to make them relatable or in kid-friendly terms. Because of my paternal family history, I know that addictive tendencies run deep, so I want my son to understand how dangerous these things are. I want him to know there are consequences and that Jesus offers both freedom, and a better way.
Our conversation on Sunday went from me laughing, to a gentle explanation of the concept I quoted earlier: “Everything in moderation.” Jericho brought it up again yesterday in a conversation about cigarettes (SO. MUCH. LITTERING.) & I rephrased my quote to, “everything in moderation…except cigarettes & drugs. Those are a Hard NO.” I’ll probably repeat that to him countless times as he grows up and faces the world. I hope & pray that David & I are building a foundation with him that will keep him protected from things like being drunk and doing stupid things (and worse). I hope that these gentle conversations that start with laughter still impact his heart, and that the concepts of love, truth, and purity stay with his spirit as he grows…Maybe I’m not taking the most conventional approach? I don’t know…I feel like preaching things “at” him will only push him to rebel, but that being honest about the good, the bad, the idiotic, and the ugly, will help him understand & to respect the dangers that are out there. Kids are going to grow up and make their own decisions…I want to raise this child to make Good Decisions, grounded in faith, with wisdom and intelligence. Maybe we set him on this path with a big dose of faith coupled with love and a sense of humor, to gird him for the journey…
Mocking the “god” of any other culture will get you eviscerated, cancelled, or worse…but mocking Jesus Christ makes you a social media star? Especially around the holiest of seasons, as we celebrate His death & resurrection? How is that allowed?
In studying Leviticus, the weight of salvation stands out heavier than ever before…When you think about the different sacrifices that were made: Burnt offering, Grain offering, Sin offering, Guilt offering, Ordination offering, Peace offering—when you think about the cost of such offerings, even in just the financial sense….When you think about the mental toll it takes, to be a priest and to slaughter animals at an endless rate, to wake and sleep in the surroundings of blood & incense….when you think about the continual efforts of the people, to monitor thoughts and actions, to regulate when a sacrifice needed to be made, and the never-ending list of sacrifices to be made….
And you think about how the Messiah ended it all in the holiest of afternoons….
He carries the weight of the sacrifice, then—2,000 years ago—and now, and forever.
He carries the burden of the continual accountability, the weight of guilt and shame, the oppression of never being able to kill enough to completely wipe the slate clean. He is ENOUGH. He wipes the slate clean with His own Blood, with His Death & Resurrection.
The Cross was never a scrawny white guy held up on two popsicle sticks by some thumbtacks. The Cross was about The Innocent…the very Son of the Most High God…Who was brutally murdered by a people that refused to recognize Redemption in any other presentation than the blood-covered altar of the Temple.
The Cross is about freedom…it’s about Eternity. It’s about drawing us into Him, about allowing us into the Holy of Holies, free and cleansed of all known and unknown sin, without an animal sacrifice and without having to go through another human being as our gateway to the Throne. The Cross bridges the gap between the Outer Courts to the Inner Courts, and puts us on a freeway to kneel and worship with the elders, praising God in a chorus that never stops, because it CAN’T stop, because HE IS WORTHY.
Our relationship with God is not something to be mocked, and it isn’t something to take casually. He’s not “Buddy Christ,” and although He is most definitely our best of friends, He is still SOVEREIGN, and He is HOLY. Time spent with Him is HOLY. This casual attitude of mocking Him…of allowing the news and the media, of allowing movies and music to take His imagery and to twist it in such abominable ways is inconceivable. Conversely, our perception of Satan and all that he brings to the table is also not to be mocked or taken casually, as spiritual matters are serious. Degrading them to a form of blasé entertainment is utter foolishness (which is exactly what Satan wants us to do—the less-seriously we take him, the less seriously we take Jesus, and he’s happy with that).
I caught myself rolling my eyes at recent media outlets that were celebrating a social media star who is blatantly glorifying Satan in his latest video. He’s proud of himself—he says this is how he celebrates his “freedom.” He’s in more chains than he will ever know, until he’s facing eternity…and I rolled my eyes. Like, how am I not weeping over this? How am I not grieving in my spirit over this? I’m so calloused to the media portrayal of spiritual matters that I am reduced to rolling my eyes like a bored teenager, as opposed to crying out to God for a nation that is spiritually bankrupt. I’m disappointed in myself–have I gotten so used to skimming headlines, that I fail to allow them to penetrate my convictions?? How have we fallen so far as a nation, that there isn’t a huge moral outcry to shut this kind of imagery and glorification down??
The further in I go into the Old Testament, the more my salvation means to me…the more I realize my state as a human being that will never be worthy on her own. I so desperately need my Jesus, and I need Him not just as my Best Friend, but as my Holiness. I want to be cloaked in His holiness, to have Him take out the things that make me forget Who He is, and replace them with whatever makes me grow closer to Him. I want the mockery that makes my eyes roll right now, to break my heart until I see His face. I want to understand WHY His sacrifice means so much, not just on the surface, but on a deeper level.
I’m so flawed. I’m such a dichotomy—my mouth needs its own separate redemption, I swear—but in my heart of hearts, I want Jesus, and I want Him to be the center of my life. It’s a never-ending journey, and I’m thankful that He lets us be on it…that He’s with us every step of the way.
Sacrilegious is NEVER funny…but even to those who would openly mock Him, Jesus says, “Come.” He responds to the haters with Love—He did it 2,000 years ago as He was dying on the Cross, and He still does it, today. He says, “Come, and be with Me in My Father’s House.” He invites us to love, and to be loved in a way we don’t deserve, but that He freely gives. He’s Jesus, and He loves you as you are….and He loves you to who He sees you becoming as you grow in Him.